Temple Theaters mourns the passing of Professor Lee Kenneth Richardson

Temple Theaters mourns the passing of Professor Lee Kenneth Richardson

May 26 2020

Temple’s Department of Theater is deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Lee Kenneth Richardson, who served as Associate Professor in Drama at Temple University, from 2008-2017. Lee, who was known and respected as an enormous force in the theater at Temple and around the nation, was a founding member of the CROSSROADS THEATER COMPANY, the nation's only African American theater to receive a Tony award for distinguished achievement in regional theater.

Known for an infectious laugh, and intensity of spirit, Lee was a driving force behind the theatrical life of many students.

Among his many directing credits Lee helmed the original production of George C Wolfe’s groundbreaking play, THE COLORED MUSEUM, first at Crossroads Theater in New Brunswick, NJ, then at the Public Theater in NYC where it ran to great critical acclaim and was subsequently produced in London (Royal Court, Duke of York), Los Angeles (Mark Taper Forum, Geffen Playhouse) and Baltimore (Center Stage).

While at Temple Mr. Richardson directed regularly for Temple Theaters,  most notably an acclaimed production of THE SEVEN, a hip-hop musical written by Will Power (2009), which was loosely based on Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes, and a  “40th Anniversary” production of FOR COLORED GIRLS… by Ntozake Shange (2015) in conjunction with a special celebratory tribute event attended by Ms. Shange, held at the Temple Performing Arts Center.  

Other directing credits include the Crossroads Theater Company, Mark Taper Forum, San Diego Repertory, Dallas Theater Center, Arena Stage, Great Lakes Theater Festival, Asolo Theater, Stage West, Long Wharf, Delaware Theater Company and Philadelphia Theater Company. His acting credits include TV and film such as his guest appearances on LAW & ORDER, CROSSING JORDAN, PARKER LEWIS CAN'T LOSE, FAME, ALL MY CHILDREN and THE MARTIN SHORT SHOW and in the film SNOOP DOGG'S HOOD OF HORROR starring Billy Dee Williams and Jason Alexander.

In Los Angeles, Lee founded BLACKSMYTHS, a workshop dedicated to the development of plays by African American playwrights; and THE MASTER BLASTER ACTORS WORKSHOP.

TFMA Associate Dean Douglas C. Wager writes of Richardson, with whom he had a decades-long friendship, “Lee devoted his entire life to working in the theater as an actor, director and educator.  His public persona was positively larger than life in every respect - immensely joyful, ebullient, charismatic, and impetuously, impulsively creative. In short Lee was “all-in;” simply put, a flamboyant force of nature. As an educator, he was always provocative, passionate, nurturing yet sincerely forceful in his role as an inspirational educator and, perhaps most importantly especially encouraging, genuinely supportive of and fully invested in shepherding our students of color.  I will surely miss him as a comrade in art, my  dear “old-soul-mate” and friend.

Within hours of the news of his passing, a host of condolences and tributes from Lee’s copious network of professional associates began hitting social media from all across the country paying loving tribute to the memory and legacy of Lee Kenneth Richardson.

Social media tributes from Temple Alums other faculty have been equally effusive in how fondly they remember him as an artist,  teacher, mentor and colleague. 

“What a Force.” writes theater professor Cheryl Williams, Lee “not only uplifted students, but [he] always did the same for me. I will never forget you...your laugh, your encouragement, your support of Wo(men)...”

Theater Alum Gina Williams cites Richardson as the one who “shaped [her] craft from the very beginning and I could never thank him enough.” And recent alum George McGriff III writes of Richardson that, “If I hadn’t worked with Lee Richardson on my acting in any kind of capacity, I would not be the actor I am today.”   

When an obituary is available, we will link it here.  

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